Archive for February, 2017

Referee or coach?

I was watching the 6 Nations rugby match between England and Italy on Sunday, and at one stage, there was quite a discussion going on between England players and referee Romain Poite about rucking and wanted him to explain what they must to under certain circumstances.

I loved his response: “I am the referee, I am not the coach.”

Role clarification is important!

Next time when somebody asks you to do something that is not in your area of expertise or responsibility, say “no”.  That’s not your job.  You “are the referee, not the coach”.  Fulfil your role, and nobody else’s.

One of my individual coaching clients said she could just not say “no” to people, even if they were asking her to do things that were clearly not part of her key performance areas.  “Why?”, I asked.  “I want people to like me”, was her reply.  Nothing wrong with being liked, but at what cost?

Stick to your role, protect your boundaries, and “be the referee, not the coach”.

Have a fun week with the whistle!

Quote: “You should only do what only you can do. Delegate or outsource the rest.”



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On Sunday, we celebrated my brother Almero’s birthday.

A good amount of planning went into the event which was a first in their new home in Somerset Oaks. There was the usual back and forth about who brings what but eventually it was all done. W e had a lovely day!

I was also given a few lessons which I think can be applied to any project.

Don’t be a “scope creeper”.  I ended up taking more items than planned and that caused uncertainty about what is “something to nibble before we begin” and “the real starter”.  Nothing serious but the lesson for smooth execution: Stick to what you were asked to do!

Have one person with delegated authority in charge.  A good example of the paradox of high performance – slow down to speed up.  Take some time up front to appoint the “project manager”.  Don’t rush this phase – then let him/her run things. Too many cooks spoil the broth!

I wish you an uncomplicated week with no scope creep and smooth execution.

Quote: There is no such thing as scope creep, only scope gallop – Cornelius Fitchner

What’s going on…

“Productivity Breakthrough Masterclass”: From some time in March I will be facilitating a series of 60-minute live “Productivity Breakthrough Masterclasses”. The sessions will be recorded and a workbook will accompany each masterclass.  No commitment by clicking this link to let me know that I must keep you in the loop about this.

Get information by email about our public “Productivity Breakthrough for Outlook Users” workshops in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban.

Get information by email about our in-house “Productivity Breakthrough for Outlook Users” workshop.


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When last did a day work out exactly (I mean exactly) as planned?  Life changes and we need to be flexible enough to adapt and change as well.

This weekend I had an opportunity to practice both flexibility and rigidity.

Richard and I planned to meet for breakfast for a discussion around membership sites.  It never worked out that way, because his wife, Senomi, suggested we go the Avontuur Estate instead for a relaxing morning and have something to eat there.

2017-02-11-10-32-48In the space of 30 seconds the entire day took on a different complexion and instead of being indoors, we could enjoy the countryside – and a good breakfast too.  That’s the value of being flexible.

We had our conversations as planned, but I think the quality of the thinking was just so much better in an open space.  Maybe open space creates open minds!

On Sunday, on the other hand, I was required to be more “disciplined” during an indoors “photo- shoot”.  I learned a lot about “light shaping” – truly amazing.  But in this context, I could not just do what I wanted when I wanted to, but had to follow the instructions of the photographer, who had an “end in mind” with the pictures.

Different approaches work for different circumstances and different desired outcomes.

At times, you can be free and flexible – be aware of what’s happening, and adapt.  Just like liquid water does.

At other times, especially when somebody who knows what she/he is talking about is directing you, it’s best to “toe the line” to achieve the best results.  Be “frozen” like ice.

Depending on the situation, water is liquid, ice or steam.

On a practical note: When planning your month/week/day, make sure that you proactively block out “open space” for nothing in particular.  This gives you the freedom to adapt and make the most of unexpected opportunities.  This means that you must (yes, must) not allow back-to-back meetings in your calendar.  Block at least 30 minutes between meetings.

Enjoy a flexible week!

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Knowing versus domg

Charles Schwab, president of Bethlehem Steel, told efficiency expert Ivy Lee that was needed in his company was NOT MORE KNOWING but A LOT MORE DOING. He said: “We know what we should be doing. Now if you can show us a better way of getting it done, I’ll listen to you and pay you anything within reason you ask.”

It breaks my heart when I do a productivity improvement workshop with a client (company or individual) and after a few weeks I hear that they are not getting any benefit from it.  To paraphrase Charles Schwab:  They know what to do but they must not be doing it, because I know people get huge benefit by implementing their new knowledge and skills after one of our workshops.

You can attend a million courses, watch a million videos, read a million books and gain all the knowledge of “how to play tennis” but if you don’t get on the court and PRACTICE what you have learned, it was a waste of time and money.

The same with any training/workshop you do.  Actions speak louder than words.  DOING speaks louder than KNOWING.

I therefore want to commend the Bloemfontein office of SMEC South Africa for DOING.  Their management team meets every Monday, and following the workshops I did with them, they now have a standing “Productivity” agenda item. Every week a different member of the team gets the opportunity to visit colleagues, learn what is still holding them back, and what successes they are enjoying.  At the meeting, they have a time slot to share this, and their own “productivity tips and tricks” with the rest of the team.  Well done – I am proud of you!

One very small thing you can do to get going, is the “strong finish” afternoon routine just before you leave the office.  Review today, learn from it and improve tomorrow. Preview and plan for tomorrow.  Small things, but people who do this tell me that they are more relaxed at home and also sleep better.  Going to do it?

For all of us: Keep on learning!  Keep on doing!

Quote: “To learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know.”
― Stephen R. Covey

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